Not as expensive as you think
Things you will need
1. Phillips Screwdriver
2. 2 monitors
3. Dual Head Video Card PCI-e, PCI or AGP(Heads must match the monitors connectors)
4. If you have a video card integrated with your motherboard, then you only need a video card with one head. If you want to use a dual head and have an integrated video card, that is fine too. It doesn't matter.
Some Reasons Why You May Want Dual Monitors
1. You are always losing track of where some windows go because you multi-task so much.
2. You just think it would be cool and want to improve the look of your computer room.
3. You would prefer to keep an eye on one particular program, but want to surf or use another program at the same time.
4. Watch TV or a DVD on one screen and perform tasks such as surfing the web on the other.
5. Play 2 games at one time such as slot machines or poker games.
If you would like to learn some tips on how to obtain a cheap video card or a cheap second monitor, then scroll to the very bottom of this tutorial. Also, you can buy a dvd/cd combo if your computer doesn't already have one, so you can watch a dvd on one screen and surf the web on the other. Scroll to the bottom for general prices of all these items needed/wanted.
Install the Video Card
First, make sure you have your case unplugged. Next, open the case up and if you have an existing pci-e, pci, or agp card, remove it. Install the dual head video card in the appropriate slot. If your monitor connects to an integrated video card, then you just have to install a new card with a standard one head or you may also use a dual head card. Again, Just install your video card in it's appropriate slot. Close the case up. Plug all the cords in to the correct ports on the back of your computer, including both monitors, and turn your computer on. Please note, it does not matter which monitor connects to which head. How to change which monitor is your primary monitor will be described later in this tutorial.
Getting your Settings Right
At this point, you will notice that both monitors have turned on and will be showing your desktop. You will not be able to move your mouse or windows to and from each monitor yet. If your dual set up preferences are to just have 2 exact same images of what you are doing on the computer, then you are done!!!
However, in my opinion, the best set up is extending your desktop to your second monitor. Click on START >> CONTROL PANEL >> Double click the DISPLAY ICON >> Now, click on the SETTINGS TAB You will now see two gray boxes. Click once on the box labeled #1
In between the screen resolution box area and the tab that says "Identify" you will see two sentences with tiny boxes in front of them. The sentences are: "Use this device as the primary monitor" and "Extend my windows desktop onto this monitor". Make sure both boxes are checked. Now click on the gray box above that is labeled #2.
Locate those same two sentences mentioned above in the previous paragraph. Make sure the box that proceeds the sentence "Extend my windows desktop onto this monitor" is checked. It probably is not checked, so go ahead and check it now. Hit apply Your screen will probably flicker and/or go off, don't worry, it will come back. You may be asked after this if these are the settings you want. Hurry up and click yes because there is a count down and if you don't choose yes, then your setting will revert back and you will have to start the instructions starting at "In between..." all over again. Now click OK
You now should be able to drag windows to and from each monitor and your mouse should be able to go to each monitor as if the monitors are one screen. Your Desktop Wall Paper however will just be a copy of it self. YOU ARE DONE!!! However,
If you want your primary monitor to be the other screen, then simply go back into the display settings and choose the #1 or #2 monitor(whichever one you want) and unclick the box for "Use this device as the primary monitor". Now, go to whichever monitor you were not on and then click the "Use this device as the primary monitor" box. Hit apply and so on so forth. This is how you change which monitor has the icons and start button/task bar.
Tips to Enhance Your Dual Monitor Experience
A. Depending on your selection of video cards, your video card may have software or utilities that will allow you to do really cool things. Example are: 1. A button at the top of each window that when clicked, automatically sends the window to the other monitor. 2. Lets you make certain things like your task bar and/or windows appear transparent. 3. Make both monitors completely one screen so if you are watching a movie it play on both monitors like it is one screen, but with where your monitors meet--the movie will be cut in half.
B. Multimon Taskbar This is a small program that you can download off the internet. Just google it. This puts a second task bar with a clock on your second monitor. It also puts a button at the top of each window that when clicked will automatically send the window to the other monitor. You have the option to not use that button if your video cards software/utilities has a cooler or better one. You can also unload the program by right clicking on the second taskbar and clicking "Un-Load Toolbar". To get it back, just go to START >> PROGRAMS >> Click on MULTIMON TASKBAR. It will reload.
C. If you have an integrated video card with your motherboard and you use a dual head video card it should be possible to have 3 monitors. I have never done this, but MULTIMON TASKBAR has an option to add the taskbar to your left and right monitors and shows a picture of 3 monitors there. So, I assume it can be done basically by following the above instructions really.
Cheap Ways to Get Yourself Dual Monitors
I have found free monitors on Craigslist's free section several times. A regular 17" inch CRT Monitor can be found in the "computer" section for sale all the time...same with flat panels for a good price.
You can put a wanted ad for a dual head video card or a single head video card(if you already have an integrated video card with your motherboard) on the "computer" section of Craigslist. A basic 16mb dual head or single head card is really only worth $5, maybe $10 if it is newer. I bought a 256mb Nvidia Geforce FX 5200 dual vga heads for $15 used on Craigslist. Also, you may want to try Ebay.
Internal DVD/CD combos can be found on many online stores for as cheap as $15-$20 and then on up. External ones cost a little more, but you can find them on the same type of sites.